Retailers are inundated with promising technologies to revolutionize the in-store shopping experience for consumers. The problem? Our research shows that most of these experiences today miss the mark and may actually make the customer experience more complex or confusing.  On the other hand, retailers are seeing significant, and measurable, value from technologies that directly improve store operations.

Forrester has published a two-part TechRadar™ defining the current state, business value, and long-term prospects for technologies in retail stores: one for those focusing specifically on customer experiences and the other on technologies focusing on operations. It’s still early days for both of these technology categories but we found that:

  • Operations technologies generally already offer significant business value to retailers. Of the 14 technologies we evaluated,nearly half are on track to provide significant business value for retailers. Retailers are finding that these technologies help their physical store teams and operations perform better and become more efficient by gleaning customer insights and spurring real-time action by store staff.
  • Few customer experience technologies offer significant business value today. By contrast, of the 16 experience technologies we evaluated, only one – consumer mobile engagement technologies – demonstrated significant business value. Retailers are scrambling to revolutionize the in-store shopping experience with digital technologies, but the resulting experiences are still often unnecessary, unintuitive, or just plain uncomfortable.

The upshot: focusing on customers and their needs is the key to successful in-store technologies. In the Age of the Customer, retailers must streamline processes and provide their store associates with the right tools they need to win, serve, retain and delight today’s empowered customers.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.